Burt’s Bees Culture Day Turns into Disaster Relief After Hurricane Florence

By Paula Alexander, Director – Sustainable Business & Innovation

One week after Hurricane Florence made landfall along the coast of the Carolinas, the Burt’s Bees and Clorox IT teams swarmed the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Our objective: to help keep normal food bank operations going while also supporting disaster relief for those impacted by the storm.

Our group of about 225 people sorted apples to feed the hungry in the wake of the storm and packed out Commodities Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) boxes. CSFP is a federal program serving about 5,000 seniors in the area.

The day had been eight months in the making. In an ironic twist, we had moved our annual culture day from spring to fall to avoid the unpredictability of spring weather.

It turns out this year our community needed our help more than ever.

Living our values, increasing our impact

We chose the food bank as our Culture Day 2018 partner after I’d visited the facility during a The Burt’s Bees Foundation meeting with other corporate funders. I was so impressed by the operations and scale of the food bank, which serves 600,000 food insecure people in the region. Last year, the food bank worked with 800 partner agencies to distribute 70 million lbs. of food, more than one quarter of which was fresh produce. 

With our talented creative services team of Carl Mazer, Paul Badalamenti and Jennifer Mauer, we chose an event theme: Hunger Swarm. Stop the Hunger. Stop the Waste. This theme effectively communicates the food bank’s two-prong impact. The Burt’s Bees brand engagement team leveraged this theme using the hashtag #hungerswarm and posted Instagram stories throughout the day.

“Between the amount of food produced in the United States and the amount of food that goes to waste, no one should ever have to worry about what they are going to eat that day or the next or the next. This is a major problem for many North Carolinians that simply shouldn’t be,” says Kelly Offerman, who served as an activity lead on the Culture Day Planning Team. “The fact that the food bank works within the local community (i.e. local farmers and retailers) to prevent this food from going to waste is a cause near and dear to my heart. It was also absolutely perfect timing to aid in response efforts to Hurricane Florence and help our fellow North Carolinians in their time of need.”

How to have an impactful service and culture day

Burt’s Bees Culture Day is an annual event for Burt’s Bees and Clorox IT employees based in Durham, North Carolina. It’s a time for us all to recommit to The Greater Good values — how Burt’s Bees articulates its commitment to the triple bottom line of “Good for You, Good for Us, Good for All.”

Burt’s Bees Greater Good model for corporate responsibility.

Over the years, we’ve learned that some of the ingredients to a successful culture day include: a meaningful nonprofit partner, hands-on and interactive service activities and some learning about a value important to the business.

One other way we brought to life our focus on reducing food waste was to include Kavita Shukla, co-founder and CEO of the FreshGlow Company, to culture day.

Kavita invented a product called FreshPaper that keeps food like berries and spinach fresh. We added FreshPaper to each bag of sorted apples and everyone went home with FreshPaper samples to try. While her story inspired our Burt’s Bees people, her involvement also highlighted another important aspect of Burt’s Bees culture, which is to “pay it forward” and support like-minded entrepreneurs. That’s a big part of what our Natural Launchpad startup accelerator is all about, and it was wonderful to have Kavita with us on Culture Day.

As Culture Day 2018 Planning Team activity lead Linda Faibish put it, “Culture Day is a time to give back to the community. It brings colleagues together to work towards a common, meaningful, purpose.”

And this year’s work was especially meaningful as we worked on causes important to our culture while also supporting our neighbors impacted by Hurricane Florence.